Nigeria’s exports to the US under the African Growth and Opportunity Act( AGOA) scheme in the last 10 years have hit US$44.3 billion, amid a growing call by the U.S. to increase the export profile ahead of the scheme’s extension to Asian countries, which could pose stiffer competition for Africa.
The private Guardian newspaper reported Friday that the Economic Counsellor at the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Mr. Perry Bell, gave the figure.
Mr. Bell also put the volume of the two-way trade under the Act at US$82.1 billion its enactment in 2000.
He urged Nigeria to concentrate more on the export of non-oil products to the U.S., as these products have more prospect of being picked off the shelves instantly.
The Economic Counsellor said Nigeria was the biggest beneficiary of the AGOA Act, and advised the country to reduce its dependence on oil as its major export product and diversify into other products, especially agricultural produce which he said are “usually taken off the shelf in the U.S. without delay, actually within 48 hours”.
He said in 2011 alone, Nigeria topped the list of countries that exported crude oil into the U.S. by US$33.7 billion, a figure representing about 99.9 per cent of the country’s exports, while the non-oil produce represented 0.45 per cent.
“The top supplier is Nigeria. So, you can say that Nigeria is the largest beneficiary of AGOA, but it is predominately oil,” Mr. Bell said.
He said the U.S. was considering extending AGOA to other parts of the world under the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
“The implication would be a stiffer competition between Africa and other producers for the same market. Africa has a unilateral access to the U.S. which is the most generous access into the largest economy of the world,” the US official said.
Mr. Bell said trade was more than getting products from one point to another and that the aspect of provision of infrastructure was also critical.
As a way of addressing the situation, the 2012 AGOA Forum, scheduled for 14-15 June in Washington, DC, will focus on the theme: “Enhancing African infrastructure for trade.”